Friends from Pennsylvania said that they do not like John Fetterman, the Lieutenant Governor who is running for the U.S. Senate. When I asked why, they only said that they just don’t like him. None of his positions was mentioned. When asked if they were going to vote for his opponent, Mehmet Oz, they were adamant that they would not. They abhor his political stances and said that he was a charlatan. I concluded (without solid evidence) that my friends’ visceral reaction against Fetterman had something to do with the way he looks. He does not appear to be the kind of refined person that they have worked and socialized with. Tattoo-covered, he is generally seen in a sweatshirt and shorts, neither of which could be described as designer wear. Supposedly, he owns but one suit, which he wears when he presides over the Pennsylvania Senate to satisfy its dress code. I thought my friends intolerant, thinking a bit about Martin Luther King, Jr., since they were judging a person not by his political positions and beliefs but by his appearance. I also, however, acknowledged to myself, that I was less likely to vote for someone if I knew that they wore Brooks Brothers suits. This isn’t because (or not just because) Brooks Brothers got started by ripping off the government and the soldiers during a war. (Is it an exaggeration to say that behind corporate success is a corporate crime?) Instead, it is because when I started in my professional career, Brooks Brothers suits, drab, boxy, and generally unstylish, were the hallmark of corporate conformity. They made young men all look alike. The clothes signified that the wearer was interested more at fitting into a corporate world and advancing in it than anything else. That feeling from years ago still lingers. Ok, you might think that this, too, is a prejudice based on appearances. I can only answer that some prejudices have a firm grounding.

Ted Cruz was born in Canada. A decade ago he was a Canadian citizen.

“Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.” Abraham Lincoln

Does this scare you, too: 10% of U.S. children are Texans?

I had not noticed the Manhattan establishment before. It was named something like Chubby, and the window told me that I could get “Injectables and Cosmetics” there. I immediately thought of my clients from yore who went to jail for selling injectables, but I quickly realized that the store sold legal substances that would tighten my skin in some places and plump it up in others. I wondered, Why weren’t people afraid to inject such stuff into their bodies for such purposes? And I then thought that too many people have too much money. I looked through the window. Behind a counter where a couple of people stood was a board that apparently had a menu (without prices) of services. It offered “East Coast Lips” and right below it “West Coast Lips.” I was, and remain, mystified by the difference. And I wondered if Midwesterners don’t have lips. Once again, elite Easterners treating flyover country as if did not exist.

“It is only rarely that one can see in a little boy the promise of a man, but one can almost always see in a little girl the threat of a woman.” Alexandre Dumas fils.


The news article was about Disneyland opening again. The actors’ union that represents the performers in the various productions around the theme park is concerned about the adequacy of the safety procedures. Not unusual news these days, but what caught my eye was the information that those who walk about the grounds in the regalia of Disney characters are not represented by the actors’ union. Instead, they are represented by the Teamsters. That made me pause. I wondered: Do Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, or perhaps Goofy know where Jimmy Hoffa is buried?

The headline on a right-wing website said: “At least 20 shot, 7 killed in 24 hours in Mayor Lightfoot’s Chicago.” I wonder if that site every says, “45 people have been murdered every day in Trump’s America.”

The billboard urged me to worship at the nearby Most Holy Trinity Church. I wondered if there were a Lesser Holy Trinity Church or a Non-Holy Trinity Church.

“Given the world that he created, it would be an impiety against God to believe in him.” John Banville, The Sea.

While waiting to play tennis, Boris and I could hear his wife and her companions a few courts over. “Covid” was said more than once, which was not surprising since Roseanne is an M.D./Ph.D. who works for a drug company that makes vaccines. Boris said, “Poor Roseanne. She can’t get away from the pandemic talk. The women call her ‘the cute Dr. Fauci.’” After a beat, I asked, “Only the women?” Boris shot me a look but did not say a word. I felt, as an Australian friend would put it: “As welcome as a turd in a swimming pool.”

When you get to be of a certain age, you realize that there are only two times. If it is dark, it is time for bed. If the sun is up, it is time for a nap.

Trump retweets right-wing attacks on Tammy Duckworth. It is understandable that the president cannot identify with her. She does not have bone spurs on her feet.

Various crazies have maintained that the pandemic is a hoax. It is a conspiracy by the left to discredit Trump although how this conspiracy has foisted Covid-19 on the world is not clear. I am seeking to create another conspiracy. Places around the country that have quickly re-opened have seen a surge in infections. Communities of color have been hit harder with the coronavirus than white communities. People of color are expected to vote overwhelmingly against Trump in November. Suppressing the votes of minorities aids Trump. Trump is trying to get the country wide open as quickly as possible. Connect the dots. I think that this conspiracy is baseless, but it has more of a basis than that the pandemic is a hoax. 

“I prefer rogues to imbeciles, because they sometimes take a rest.” Alexandre Dumas fils.

The Class of the Bar (concluded)

          My encounter with the two women in a bar who had a lower class led me to think about another young woman I met in a bar. She was tending bar, and her surname, she told me, was Dumas with the “s” pronounced, and I always addressed her by that last name. Without consciously thinking about the topic, if you had asked me after I first met her, “Was she from the lower middle class?”, I would have said definitely not. But I could not have said what it was about her that would have led me to that opinion. I was not surprised, then, to learn eventually that her father was a doctor in South Carolina, where she grew up, her older brother was a partner in a prestigious law firm, and her younger brother was attending a top-tier law school. When I found out that she was a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, I said, “Oh, you are one of those fucking smart women.” She paused, smiled, and replied, “Yes, I am one of those fucking smart women.”

          She may have been smart, but she did tell me that she had not read much since leaving Penn. I gave her my autographed copy of The Black Count: Glory, Evolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss, the Pulitzer-Prize winning biography of Thomas-Alexandre Dumas, the father of the author Alexandre Dumas. I told her that she ought to learn more about her ancestors. (She was as white as the snow that does not fall in Charleston, and I am not sure that she got the racial joke in the gift.) She stopped working in the bar shortly after I gave her the book, and I never found out what she thought of it or whether she even read the biography.

          Dumas was different from other bartenders and servers in the biergarten not only because she was an Ivy League graduate. Almost everyone who works there has some sort of other career that they are pursuing—actor, videographer, music editor, writer, podcast comedian, lead singer in a covers band, Ph.D candidate, psychologist, saving to buy their own bar, tour guide—but she mentioned no aspirations. This also made her different from the athletic director whom I met in the offended-me bar.

          Kris had mentioned that she had a master’s degree, but I did not get in what or from where, but when Maggie mentioned the book I had put down in front of the way-too-expensive Scotch, Kris said that she would like to read more books but that she did not have the time. Most people who claim to want to read and say they don’t have the time are really saying they prefer watching TV or listening to podcasts or searching for online videos or playing videogames in their leisure time rather than reading. They make the perfectly acceptable choice to do something other than crack a book.

          Kris, however, went on to say that in addition to her two jobs as athletic director and soccer coach that she was studying for a Ph.D. I admit that I did not know the field—educational leadership—and I did not know the school–the University of New England. She was pursuing her degree online. When she got home at night, she turned to studying for that Ph.D. I asked if this was hard, and she spit out, “Oh, yes. It is a lot different and easier going to classes with lots of other people than it is sitting by yourself in front of a computer.” But she was determined to get the degree. She was determined to learn more; she was determined to become even better.

          But the deck is stacked against her in ways that it was not for me. In this land of opportunity, increasingly opportunity is available only if you are born into it. In a better country, the strivers like Kris would make it to the head of the class. I hope she does.